God’s glory. What an amazing thing! Astounding really, and one that should be displayed by the very people who claim to know Him. There is a fast and easy way to tell if God is being glorified within the Body of believers. Just observe how Christians treat one another. Jesus and apostles readily make the case for showing love to each other as a testimony of God’s glory and the faith of His followers. Is this what you’ve experienced?
I was walking on egg shells, not wanting to engage this person who had decided not to bother with simply being polite. Who ignored me and treated my family with disdain. Our very presence was an offense to them. Yet, I couldn’t reconcile this treatment with the profession of faith that they had.
Sometimes this behavior is not so blatant. Sometimes it’s hidden behind fake niceties and smiles or words that just seem off. It comes in many packages:
- We might put a smile on our faces and speak kindly to them but in our hearts we’re not sincere. We don’t genuinely care for that person.
- When someone’s name gets brought up in conversation, we may bristle a little or wrestle with an arrogant thought.
- Perhaps we harbor jealousy, envy, judgement or hatred toward that person so we find it very difficult to think of a good thing about them.
- We might ignore them when they are around, purposefully (or not) give the cold shoulder, avoiding them so as not to have to make conversation with them much less look in their direction.
I’m thankful that God gave me the gift of discernment because I pick up on these subtleties very easily. However, I can’t seem to fathom how believers would treat one another this way.
You see, others have treated me this way but I can deal with it much easier – that is, not take it so personally – when I know that the person is not a Christian. I don’t expect them to live & engage people as Christ says believers should. However, with those who are believers, there is a standard of how Christ calls us to live our lives and specifically how we should treat other believers.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
“Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” – John 14:23-24
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” – 1 John 3:9-11
“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:19-21
I’m not innocent in all this either. I’ve caught myself struggling with certain people. Several times I’ve gone to them to ask for forgiveness and sometimes they had no clue what was going on. Something I’ve learned and am becoming more comfortable with is that I don’t have to like everyone. And not everyone has to like me. It’s natural that certain personalities just don’t get along like other ones. But that’s no excuse to treat them unkindly, unwanted, or be fake.
Even if I don’t necessarily like someone, I am still commanded to love them. Simply because we share the same faith in the same Savior, we are in the same family.
So when they are hurting or need help, I need to offer service and care. When I see them, I need to offer kindness. When they are around, I need to acknowledge them. When we speak, I need to be genuine.
I do this for two reasons: Christ commands it. And when we each die someday we will live together forever worshipping the God who saved each of us – regardless of personality.
We need to own our sin. We need to die to flesh. We need to repent for treating fellow believers and heirs of the Kingdom with disregard, disdain, unkindness, avoidance, judgement, hatred, malice – even if all these things are hidden from public view in the vaults of our minds and hearts.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
God loves this person. God created this person in His own likeness and more important than that, God called them to faith and they answered. We have the most important thing in common, we ought to set aside all other differences and simply be kind and put the effort toward loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, didn’t Jesus do that exact same thing for us when he died on our behalf and for our benefit?
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” – John 15:12-17